Give yourself a gift this holiday season…

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 4.34.05 PMYesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  And today?  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.  ~Babatunde Olatunji

The holidays, which are an unusually a stressful time for most people… are even more so for artists.  Visual artists, who have to cram art making into an already full life, are now faced with the additional burden of dealing with traffic, crowds, guests from out of town and unnatural amounts of spending.  So for all you last minute shoppers, I have compiled a list of the Best Holiday Gifts for Artists… even if the artist happens to be YOU!  If you are lucky enough to have someone ask you what you would like this year, send them an email of this article and relax. If not, make a New Year’s Resolution to get yourself everything on this list before next years holidays surprise us.

* Website: Are you a homeless person?  You are if you don’t have a website.  Your art needs a place to live so you have a base to showcase your work.  If you don’t have
your own website, or are not represented anywhere on
the internet, make that your first priority!  Go immediately to
www.networksolutions.com or godaddy.com and buy your domain
name.  If you think you can’t afford your own website, check out otherpeoplespixels.com, weebly or wix.  They have designed easy and affordable website templates for artists that are easy to manage yourself.  You can have a website up in 24 hours or less.  If you need help, ask any 10 year old.

* Digital Camera: Welcome to the 21st Century
Kodak has stopped making slide projectors and slide film, so if there are still any ludites out there, raise your hand.  The world has gone digital and a camera is your first indispensable tool.  Get the best quality camera you can afford and learn how to use it to take photos of your work, email images or change the images on your website.  Once you have the digital camera, you are going to need to learn how to use a good program to make those images look as
good as they possibly can.

* Make this your year to GET ORGANIZED. Too much information, too little time–
Let computers do the work they do best.  Throw away your roladex, stacks of business cards, scraps of paper w/ names, random invoices and get eArtist or ACT or another good contact
management program:  Make a resolution this year to get all of your contacts organized, people who have purchased your work, liked it, galleries you wish would like you work, people whom you have sent materials to and their responses, etc. All of your shows, reviews, works out on consignment.  You will also need a email marketing program such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.  The beauty of these programs is they are able to keep all your email addresses up to date, archive all of your announcements and monitor the activity of the recipients.  Give up sending unsolicited catalogs/announcements by snail mail, it’s too expensive!

* Subscription to art magazines or gallery guides:  Reading the art magazines (online or hard copies) to stay abreast of what is happening in the artworld is essential. Even if you don’t read the articles, looking at the ads can help you formulate ideas about other galleries that show work similar to yours.

* Airline tickets to New York: Get out of town!
Regardless of what anyone says, New York is a vital center of the contemporary artworld.  Visiting the city’s museums and galleries each year should be compulsory for any serious artist. (You can substitute Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or any out of town location…)
But there is no denying that visiting out of town galleries is one of the most effective ways to educate yourself about current trends.  If you can get to New York, Miami or Chicago for the big art fairs, you get extra bonus points. If you absolutely can not get away, spend time going to galleries near you. This is the time of year when most galleries mount group exhibitions of the gallery artists. There is no better time to “Do Your Homework.” Visiting galleries now can give you the opportunity to size up the kind of art the gallery likes, quickly and easily and better prepare you in determining if that gallery is right for you to approach. The end of the year is also a time for reflection…to look back on your accomplishments and set new goals for the year to come.  Make a commitment this year to spend time on a consistent basis towards your career
development.  Remember,  being a professional artist isn’t only about making the art. But,  also, assuming the responsibility to do what it takes get your work the exposure it deserves.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is TIME.  Force yourself to spend time on the
extraneous activities related to being an artist. Invest in improving your skills in all areas of your
career management, with the same intensity you bring to developing your work.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, productive and creative Holiday Season!

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